Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly... my former life as a contest diva.

 First of all:  I know it's January. I know it's bad to offer chocolate at this time of year. 


So there. I'm pulling a name from all of today's commenters for this delightful basket of chocolatey goodness the likes of which you've never seen before. And even if you have seen better, humor me, because that's the NICE thing to do. Playing nice is my new mantra. Let's see how long that one lasts...

Ruthy here, fresh from office and revision reconnaissance and since I'm typing, I must have survived both. If you've seen my office pics at Ruthy's Place, you know whereof I speak. And please don't think less of me. Well. Maybe a LITTLE.

 Good morning, SEEKERVILLE!!!!

Oh my stars, what a fun week it’s been already, and it’s Thursday. That makes tomorrow Friday, and then the weekend cometh.

So, Good, Bad and Ugly….
Clint Eastwood... 'nuff said!

Let’s start with the reason we’re here. My office. See, I’m cleaning it. This is no ordinary job. No menial task. Nothing to be undertaken lightly. If you go HERE, and scroll down past the awesome pic of Vince and Made to Order Family, you’ll see what I mean. (And yes, of course this is a shameless plug for Vince and the awesome award he gave me because why WOULDN’T I  give that a shameless plug??? My FIRST published author award!!!!  YAY!!!! But I digress, per usual…)

And while cleaning (Three garbage bags later, 2 ½ boxes of books so far, and one super-ugly desk, spray-painted black with (gag) gold gilt trim that I got at a garage sale for $10…And I'm only half-done. For real.) I found old contest entries.
Humbling, to say the least. And downright UGLY.

In a word:  BAD.

The GOOD thing is, I didn’t quit, and I think this is when I started the “pull up your big girl panties” mind-set, because: THIS BUSINESS IS NOT FOR WIMPS.

Let's start with "Second Chances" my first manuscript:  Winning Beginnings Contest, circa: Heaven knows when...

Scoring out of 100.


You read that right.

I got:  53/49/51

GULP. I didn't know ANYONE could receive that many '2's. Really. Seriously. Problems:  Backstory, backstory, backstory.

Young Clint as Rowdy when I first 'met' him in RAWHIDE

 (Obviously I am unafraid to use gratuitous cowboy pics to keep your interest. Who DOESN'T love Rowdy Yates????)

 But they must have been WRONG, so I entered the Orange Rose, long reputed for its stunning accuracy:

Oh. My. Stars. These gals (out of possible 165 I got: 123, 88, 120, 99, 137 (she was obviously drunk) and I'm missing one....) actually gave me the best critiques with detail, advice, and solid encouragement.

You mean I shouldn't start a book with a 24 page prologue that was totally NARRATIVE????

No dialogue. No scene change. Just... the hero's thoughts.

Oh my stars again. I'm pained to think what I did to these judges. Really pained, like grab the ibuprofen bottle pained. And I thought these were inspirational stories (NOT!!!) and I thought they were so good.

Stern. Forbidding. Square-jawed.  Oh my.
 Let's move on. Let's move on and hope these judges have big hearts and have forgiven my thickness, but I will always be grateful to the Orange County chapter for their excellent judging which steered me in the direction I needed to go.

The Prodigal. Here was my turning point. When I finally began figuring out what made an inspy an inspy, Ruthy-style. This one hasn't been published as yet, but it's a gripping story of a prodigal's return. It finaled in and won a slew of contests. It became the story that propelled me into my North Country Series published by Love Inspired. Finally, I'd gotten a clue!

Dialogue: Lots of it.

Conflict:  Oh, yeah!

Plot:  From beginning to end, a nice arcing curve.... Very rainbow-esque!

Romance:  Well. Hmm. This was definitely more a Women's Fiction or Single Title type book, which is where my brain trends, but I needed to learn to extract the ROMANCE out of the bigger book to appeal to Love Inspired. Back to the drawing board.

Touched By Love that same year, different story: (where I did very well and am so grateful to the FH&L crew who took the time to judge):  Out of a possible 155:  122, 123, 149, 153, 88

Yup:  88

That was kind of an ouch moment, because this judge gave me faint praise and all 2's and 3's and went into GREAT DETAIL about what I needed to do to get better, including learning to write dialogue. In the first cases, back in '02, those judges were right. I needed to work on the how-to's of writing, big time.

Time for more Clint:

This one is autographed. What a bunch of cuties! Okay, back to contest stuff:
This judge was wrong. How do I know that?Well, the first indicator is the discrepancy in scoring, and you should always look at that. Out of five judges, two judges liked the entry, two judges LOVED the entry, and one scored it lower than a snake's belly, and while I wished she'd liked it/me/the writing, I'd developed enough by that point to shrug it off.  Learning to discern the good and bad of contests is a solid way to develop a thick skin, and the other judges did give me sound advice, and I incorporated their thoughts. Well worth the money!

And the same story finaled in the Jasmine with solid scores and comments, so I knew the "88" judge was the anomaly. I'd also learned to not sweat the small stuff. God was/is in charge. Not me. That was a big lesson, and more valuable than any other.

Shameless plug for Mallo Cups:

Oh my stars, do you see what I see???? MALLO CUP DARK!!!!!  I SWEAR THEY'RE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL!!!!  And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

These stronger results (I know, I know, it gets pricey, but then so does college. Or adult courses. Or writing classes. Contests were my 'meter' of progress AND a chance at an editor's desk.) thrust me forward. And that was the goal, right? To hit that editor's desk and make an impression.

These improving scores inspired me to continue along that line, to write an inspirational novel I'd want to read. It put me in league and then in touch with the women we call "The Seekers", and that coalition brought us to a new level of cooperation and inspiration.

Putting your work and yourself out there is an investment of time and money, but I embraced that to the tune of a second job to finance the expenses involved in contests because: I wanted this career opportunity that badly. And I think that's what you have to ask yourself at each stage: Do I want it enough to do whatever it takes?,

Every career has good, bad and ugly, but few allow us the podium of the written word, a venue that offers amazing opportunities to reach out to others,
heart and soul.

I love what I do. Just love it. And if I had to take a few shots to the head to get here, so be it, because it was totally worth the time, the effort, the smackdowns, and the occasional accolade. Where else could I make fun of Mary Connealy in public and have such a great audience?


Grab coffee. Tea. Snapple. I just stocked up, and I've got fresh cookies here. Help yourself and be sure to leave a comment to be tucked into the drawing for the chocolate basket! Winner will be posted in the Weekend Edition.

And I double-dog-dare you to grasp the opportunities in front of you. Let common sense guide you, but don't let fear dissuade you. Hang tough, every step of the way, and just remember: God's got your back.


  1. I am my first comment. This was scheduled to go up at 12:01 but...

    it didn't. Hmm....

    So I made coffee (Thanks for trying, Helen, I know you're out there!) and I have cookies and Danish to jumpstart the day. And these cookies are to die for. I'm just sayin'...

  2. Morning (or good night for me) Please dont enter me its not that I dont like chocolate I do as long as its plain or caramel but I am not into boxes of chocolate (with the exception of the ones Cheryl sent me I loved the ones I could eat but mum gets the nut ones and strawberry)

    I admire your dedication to cleaning your office. I started on the kitchen today. I have 4 big bags of bottles (here you can recycle all drink containers including milk ones for 10 cents) So have been collecting in a corner etc. I got as far as putting them in near the back door but then it started raining. My garage is up the top of the block like not by the house but almost in the back neighbors so to go there means I would get wet and with 2 trips and opening the gate and the garage door I didn't make it. When I say rain in 7 hours we have had 3 inches of rain some of it really heavy we had this before christmas we dont get rain like this normally. we get average 22 inches in a good year! Now its off to bed.
    my word verification is Mental is it trying to tell me something?
    Oh and Ruthy I cant wait to read your book. I know I should get it while i'm in Hawaii and am excited.

  3. Good morning! I'm early this morning. Insomnia. Can anyone relate? Speaking of relating--Ruthy, I can remember similar contest scores!

    Would anyone like a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee? Where's Helen?

    Ruthy, have you finished cleaning the office?

  4. Cara Lynn I know about not sleeping I have been doing this the past week partly due to humidity and party due to the mind on the floods to much. I need to get to bed and catch some sleep as its a week till I leave for Hawaii.

  5. Ruthy, thanks for the smile and inspiration. I am also glad to hear you address what we often do: agonize of that one bad score/judge/contest and ignore all the good!

    Thanks for your perseverance, writing and humor as always!

    Ausjenny, still sending prayers for you and your country!

    Banana pancakes today with an assortment of nuts, fruits, and other toppings including peanut butter.

    Peace, Julie

  6. Jenny, your rain there and in Queensland is just a thing for the record books and beyond!

    Praying for your country, your peace of mind, and people's safety. Such a devastation.

    Hugs to you about Hawaii, though! HOW FUN!

  7. Cara, let's just say the office took a back seat to revisions. Once the revisions are done, then the office gets re-attacked. The good thing is that most of the dead, dusty wasps are gone.

    So that's progress. ;)

  8. I have never eaten a banana pancake. I think I'm in love. I would like mine with fresh strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I'm delighted by the very idea of that!

  9. Ruthy, thanks for the encouragement, the yummy pictures, the comments that made me smile . . . and the food pictures, too. Thanks for offering that great-looking basket of chocolate. (I'm out of step with the crowd because I never make any resolutions that ban chocolate.) Your post made for a bright and cheery start to the morning. Blessings!

  10. Rowdy? I've never heard of him. :)
    Oh how I love to read about author's journeys and the ups and downs they experience. It makes me feel oh-so-normal.

    I need to enter some more contests this year, but am having trouble getting the, the energy...well, whatever the reason, I need to get my backside in gear and just do it!

  11. Renee Ann, I LOVE seeing you again, and yes, chocolate should never be banned.

    Not if we want peace in the kingdom. Blessings right back atcha.

    SHERRINDA!!! Rowdy was on Rawhide, a TV western that is probably lame by today's standards, but women LOVED him. He was the tough youngster on the set. Oh, yum. ;) I was a BABY. Let's remember that, please.

    And I SO understand those contest dilemmas, but remember how they led to my soooooo fun place (after the smackdowns) here at Harlequin.

    Here. Have a chocolate. It will help you decide.

  12. Ruthy, thanks for the kick in the pants encouragement. I started entering contests last year and got a couple scores so ugly they needed a bag over their heads. Thankfully, the other judges provided great suggestions and feedback.

    I think majoring in history was an excellent way to prepare for writing. History being subjective (other than dates) meant one professor may love a paper and gush that you've uncovered all the mysteries of the Civil War, while another suggests maybe you should look into changing your major. :o) After years of that; I was prepared to take on the writing challenge.



    As you say Ruthy, Oh my stars!!!!

    I was so in love with Clint Eastwood as a teen. Loved him through his whole career actually. Still do. sigh

    We were only allowed to watch one tv show a week. You guessed it. Mine was Rawhide. yahooooooo
    So glad Connealy brought cowboys back in style. And then there's Rocky Mountain Hero and Ranchers Reunion to add to the bunch. sigh

    I'm so about getting those projects I've longed to do done. Actually did clear out stuff in my office too. Hooray.

    Jenny, so praying for you and your country. What devastation. You'll really be glad to get to Hawaii.

    Ruthy, so thrilled about your first published author award. HOOOORAAAAY. I so remember those beginning days. You worked hard and deserve all of this girlfriend.

  14. The process is painful but unless you happen to be among the 10% (I made up that percentage) of us who just naturally do plot, setting, theme, characterization and pacing well, and can understand the market, and have a pretty good knowledge of grammar and spelling...catch your breath...then I strongly suggest entering contests.

    "What she said" You'll get more good stuff out of them than bad, if you can get past the ouch and oooh that comes as well. The Seekers are proof that contests improve your writing and opportunities to grow.

    If you can't handle a judge's comment, then you better 1) give up 2) hope you never get any negative reviews if you get published 3) listen to Ruthy-pull up your big girl pants.

    Rowdy really was a cutie, wasn't he?

  15. PS, you can whine about it and look for sympathy, but then you move on.

    I brought applesauce cake w/ raisins and walnuts. Please eat up so I don't have to eat the whole thing myself.

  16. Oh my dear Ruthy,
    You do know how to get a smile from me. Forever and always I'm sure this will be the case ; )

    As you know, I don't really write lol. And I definitely have NOT entered any contests! But I think these scores have only helped make you as tough as you are today. You wouldn't have wanted to get awesome scores the first time because it wouldn't have been worth as much to you. You had to work for those scores and now! Look where you are, hun. You have made a great name for yourself and must be so proud of yourself. I know we are all very, very proud of you, Ruthy.

    So way to go not letting those scores (or the judges ;) ) get you down. You are such a strong woman and wonderful friend.
    GREAT job Ruthy (((hugs)))
    P.S. Cara, yesssssssssss to the insomnia. Jenny knows, lol!! I have a really, really hard time getting to sleep. Once I'm asleep I'm usually pretty good about staying asleep (which is part of the problem!). But mine is partly due to my Fibromyalgia I know.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Ruthy, thanks for the invite! Your post started my day out LOL. I've been here a few times but never stepped up to say anything. Your advice to contest entrants applies to ANYONE working hard at ANYTHING. Don't give up. Use your head. Take criticism with a grain of salt.

    And, most important--don't forget the chocolate :)

  19. Ah, Ruthy, your post is a walk down my own Memory Lane. The pain, the joy, the opportunity to learn and grow our craft, the hope of landing on an editor's desk--all part of entering contests and our writer's journey. Aren't we glad we made the trip?

    The chocolate basket is amazing! Clint Eastwood too! Not fair when I have no chance to win either.
    :-) Who made that silly rule?

    Thanks for breakfast! I'm grabbing a Danish and heading to my wip.


  20. Julie, I love banana pancakes and PEANUT BUTTER!!! Oooo, you've started my day off great.

    Oh what a trip down memory lane, Ruthy. Many years of memory lane.


    Had many scores down below flunking range at the beginning...and then lights began to click on in my head, the wattage increased and eventually I began finalling with the Seekers -- though our cute little southern Missy and no-nonsense Tina beat me out for top spot more times than I can count.

    And here's another tidbit -- I rarely did well in contests hosted by chapters on the west coast, but the east and south loved them.

    AND, I was never able to crack past mediocre in the Touched By Love or Golden Heart, but finalled in the Genesis every time.

    Talk about tempermental, LOL!

    Nice to see you're tidying up a bit, Ruthy. My daughter started cleaning my office and OY VAY! I had to rummage through 3 garbage bags to reclaim...good stuff!

    LOL! Moral of the story? Always do your own clean up!

  21. AusJenny, still praying for you and all the fine folks of Queensland!

  22. Good Morning, Ruthy!

    Thick skin and the ability to gleen the suggestions from contest judges or critiquers that actually make your work better is a job requirement for writer's. Thanks for the reminders.

    Oh and the pictures of Rowdy! My husband LOVES old westerns, both tv shows and movies, so we have many DVD's...Rawhide is one of them.

    Don't forget to come visit me over at www.heartsong-authors(dot)blogspot(dot)com. (Sorry couldn't resist a shameless plug of my own!)

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  23. Oh, and let's not forget Clint!

    NEVER forget Clint! My son is a The Good, The Bad, The Ugly addict. We own the entire collection and yes, the DVDs are well worn...

    almost mor than NCIS, LOL!

  24. Ah, Ruthy! A trip down the not-so-distant memory lane!

    I've saved ALL my score sheets from contests, as I've long intended to use them in a workshop or article to encourage other aspiring writers. Like you, I had my fair share of bottom-of-the barrel scores or ones that in the same contest ranked from topmost to lowest imaginable. Got glowing praise--and downright snarky, even cruel comments that shattered my dreams and confidence.

    But, like you, each time I stepped back and prayed about it, asked God if this was truly the path he wanted me to follow. And with His confirmation pushed onward to learn from the 'snarkiness' and better understand where I needed to grow.

    I think sometimes it's only in the creative/artsy realms that people tend to think they have it all together from the word "go." Every other profession generally has an expected, measurable educational foundation to achieve. No one is surprised or takes it personally that they can't graduate from high school and perform neurosurgery. MD's have undergrad work, med school, residency, then further fellowships & such in their specialty areas. THEN they go into full-fledged practice (BUT if they want to be at the top of their game, they have to continue to educate themselves).

    I'll have to dig out that BOX of contest stuff sometime and share with our Seekerville friends, too!

  25. Mmmm that box of chocolate sure does sound good. I've just put the coffee on!

    I also need to really clean out some things at my house. I really want to go room by room and clean up and get rid of some stuff. (I have waaay too much stuff!)

    Jenny, I've seen pictures of the flood on TV. It looks so bad. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.


  26. RUTHY!!! Fun (and SO true) post, my friend and great direction on reading contest scores -- you're brilliant (but then we knew that!).

    SUPER CONGRATS on your very first award as a pubbed author, which we all know will be only the first of many, MANY more!! I just hope and pray we aren't in the same categories, sweetie because it's daunting enough to go up against Mary. But I remain with, as ever, a hope undaunted that before we are through, every Seeker will rack up the awards and just desserts.

    Speaking of desserts ... are you CRAZY, woman???? Giving away chocolate in January??? You couldn't wait for Valentine's day, you goose??? Why don't you just admit that you're trying to get it out of the house ...

    Okay, as far as the "Good, the bad and the ugly," I gotta go work on my treadmill now ...


  27. Great post, Ruthy, but then again, you guys always do a fantastic job with this blog!

    Contest worked a little different for me. When I finished started, I wrote Contemporary and while the scores weren't too bad, there's wasn't much excitement in the judges' responses either. I'd started writing a historical but wasn't sure that was the sub-genre I wanted to write. Historicals weren't selling then.

    But I needed to know what genre was my strength so I entered a contest with both a contemporary and a historical.

    The historical finaled. Of course, since then, I've seen numerous confirmation that the historical genre is for me, at least until God gives me the go-ahead to write something else.

    On another note, could you guys pray for me? Some of you may know that I have a terrible back from being attacked by a patient my first night on the floor as a RN(sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, huh?) Well, I've been in uncontrolable pain for several weeks now--not even the pain pills are helping at this point. This morning I fell putting the dog's leash on. I'm hanging on to the Apostle Paul's teachings about the thorn of the flesh but it's hard.

    so if you could pray for me, that I could find relief or at least, find the strength to bear this, I would appreciate it.

    No need to put me in the contest--one look at my thighs and you'd understand why. And I've already got Ruthy's books on order.


  28. Kirsten, love the bag analogy. Perfect, girlfriend. So funny.

    And yeah, history is like "Creative Writing" which is another exercise in futility unless your teacher/professor likes your stuff. While the facts might be dead on, you better hope your positioning matches his or hers!

    And in contests, most judges are pretty sharp and I SO REMEMBER how bad I was back in the day, both writing and judging. So we play the odds and go from there. Good girl!

    Sandra... oh my stars, I love the young Clint. Adorable. And what's with all of us cleaning offices???

    Ah. January. ;)

    Deb, g'mornin'! 9 degrees here. Got your coat and scarf, don't you??? 10 %... You know what I've found? If you enter the biz without having your pride dented a few times, you might be more resistant to an editor's changes. And that would be B-A-D.

    And could get U-G-L-Y! So much better to learn flexibility at a contest judge's knees.

  29. Ah, Hannah-lass, you humble me!

    But you are absolutely right, having to work (and learning to listen and learn from others) is huge. Hugs to you from up here in very snowy upstate NY!!!

  30. RUTHY!!! I don't know what's yummier, the chocolate or the cowboys. LOLOL!

    Very delightful post as usual...although I might have to come to North Country with a thermometer. You've lost a bit of the lovable snark in this post and I really needed a dose of it today. Are ya feelin' okay today?

    Good, then can you come help me with my kitchen and my atrocious baking? LOL!

    My husband finally gave up and send my girls to gramma boot camp for baking. You should see the three inch high merengue on their pies!!!!

    Nice post and great coffee. Although we nearly had a yard scuffle at the pot this mornin' with you and Helen fighting over who'd make it.

    Two women in one kitchen....doesn't work so well sometimes. LOLOL!

    Seriously, I'm proud of you for pressing through and getting all that done.

    I don't know anyone with as titanium of a work ethic as you both professionally and in your home life.

    You're a great role model for us younger generation and I thank God for putting you in my life and speaking widsom especially when it comes to putting family first.

    My girls and Billy will thank you for it someday too.


  31. Ruth,
    congrats on your award!!! I'm walking behind you, stepping in the exact footfalls you left aheada of me. I hope they're yours anyway. Otherwise I'll be in Canada before you know it.

    My scores have been pretty much the same. One loves it, one really likes it, the last scorer hates everything the other two loved. Well, people are fickle. I guess that's where "you can't please them all" comes in. But the info from the contests is invaluable.

  32. Mia! So good to see you speaking up at last, you lurker!


    And yeah, chocolate brings ALL KINDS of people out of the woodwork, LOL!

    And Janet, I concur. Clint. A great horse (like the one I just read in a future Harders novel!!!) And chocolate.

    Oh. My. Stars.

  33. AUDRA!!!!

    Step away from the garbage bags!

    KARA!!!! Come home, quick, Mom's trying to reclaim junk! HURRY!!!!

  34. Like

    Great post, Ruthy. I still laugh about some of my scores. Not all, but some. And I still refer back to the constructive feedback.

    Now how's about telling me where I can get some of those Dark Mallo cups? I'm drooling.

  35. What a great post, Ruthy! (OK, is it okay for me to call you that? I'm here so infrequently . . .)

    I think my office can compete with yours. But, I'm moving in 5 months so I have to get things in order.

    And, I've earned a few 1s in my time. Once because the reader counted the number of senses I used in my entry and I only had 4. Wasn't sure I was going to enter contests this year. I honestly don't think anyone deserves a 1 or 2. I only give out 3s as my lowest score. They're not going to final w/ 3s, so why drop any further?

    I'm practicing making homemade cinnamon sticky buns. Do they go well with coffee?

    Abbi :-)

  36. What an encouraging, fun post. Thanks for making me smile. I am so not ready for anything contesty yet but I know that I am right place for when I take that step.

    Ausjenny - you are most certainly in my thoughts and prayers. The floods we had here in Nashville in May 2010 are still very fresh on our hearts and minds - you have my empathy and prayers.

  37. I'm STARTING to get addicted to contests myself - so much so, in fact, that I've officially banned myself from entering any more (besides Genesis, of course!) until I actually MAKE MORE PROGRESS IN THE ACTUAL BOOK! (I MAY be halfway done with it)
    Please enter me. Chocolate is good. More than good, but I won't go on (and on and on).

  38. NCIS.







    Mostly Gibbs.

  39. Glynna, yeah, what is it about us? You're dead right, but then once I learned that, I realized that others (read: NON-WRITERS) expected that too.


    I'm personally glad that my brain surgeon didn't skip classes to get to the top.

    Toasting brain surgeons everywhere.

  40. Patty, praying for you right now!

    And asking everyone else to join hands and cover you with warmth and prayer that the pain goes away, that God delivers a quick and easy answer that makes life more comfortable for you. What a rough way to start a career, honey!

    And I love that you did multiple genres. Many of the Seekers have too, and it's an important step to finding your niche. Of course IF I was one of your early contest judges, you might want to consider that and try contemps again too.


    That's all I can say.

  41. Thanks for the great (and so much fun) post, Ruthy.
    I have a contest post going up on my blog tomorrow :-)
    Great minds....
    Wait, now I'm petrified ;-)

    I have No WHERE near the contest history of many of you, but I have tried to cover a whole lot of contest ground in the last year and a half (my kids didn't need Christmas presents, anyway)

    I find the initial punch of the critiques are like a 2x4 across my head, but after I revive (3 days later), the comments are much easier to bear. And I can learn from them.

    My granny used to say "Listen first. Learn from what you want. Toss what you don't." LOL
    (ooh, that hit me hard. I haven't used the phrase 'used to say' with my granny before. Whew...tough)

    I have to remember I sent in my entry and ASKED for their comments. How else will I learn - even if I have to recover from a concussion before rereading the comments :-)

    It's just my head - and we all know what shape that's in ;-)

  42. Oh...and I'm not even going to make a comment about office cleaning. I took a picture of it a month ago to send to you, Ruthy - just so you'd feel better.
    But I still have Christmas bows on my front porch, office will have to wait.
    Some more

  43. Cheryl, you're a hoot. Here I am, TRYING to be nice...

    Oh my stars, such a step UP for me.

    A big step.

    And I only picked on Mary a smidge.

    Baking boot camp in two words:

    Paula Deen

    Although I don't use recipes often, I love hers. If half a stick of butter is good, a whole stick can only be better!

    Love that woman, AND her pull-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality.

    And that kids first thing, family first: (Do not anyone take this the wrong way because I'm sure many people are better at juggling writing and working and kids than I was) Our first gift from God is our family.

    Kind of like that The Christmas Box: The first gift of Christmas was a child.

    How can I argue with THAT???

  44. Ruthy, do those cookies have craisins in them? I love dried cranberries in cookies, chicken salad, turkey salad, spinach salad, and scones. MMMMMMMMMMM! They are so much yummier than raisins!

    Just sayin'.

    Great post, Ruthy! You are so right about contests. My part-time job financed my contest binge in 2008.

    It is cold and snowy here in Alabama, ever since we got 8 inches of snow on Sunday night. There's something just plain weird about having snow on the ground this long in Alabama. My kids have been out of school all week because we don't have snow plows. I love the snow, but it's time for it to go! LOL!

    And here's to hoping my pubbed book finals in a contest! Hoping hoping hoping ...

  45. DAWN!!! Thank you, dear one! Caution about following: I screw up regularly, but feel free to walk beside me and be my friend. We can support each other that way, and lessen my guilt exponentially!


  46. Oooo, and Congrats on your award.

    Done for now. I think.

    Short term memory loss is a side effect of concussions, you know

  47. Oh, and I would love to win the chocolate! Chocolate is my favorite food group.

  48. Oh, and I would love to win the chocolate! Chocolate is my favorite food group.

  49. ABBI!!!!

    Yes, call me Ruthy, call me whatever you want, just give over the cinnamon rolls and nobody gets hurt. Oh, YUM!!! And with the fresh pot of coffee! I'm deeeeelighted and sharing with everyone!

    So good to see you here, and stop by whenever. Door's open, coffee pot's on!

    One's... sheesh, like whatever. Really?????

    Shame on them.

    Ask Mary about the '1' she got.

    Unless she's forgotten.

  50. Holy cow - 8 am and a million comments already! [okay 40!]

    But look at those cowboys! And chocolate!

    What more could a girl want?



    Moving on.

    One of the characters in the WIP I'm working on now has Tony as my inspiration.

    I'm working on contest entries. I entered Great Expectations, need to go through last week's contest post and am planning 2 entries in Genesis. We'll see how it goes. I still need to work on that thick skin...

    In the meantime... I must go fold laundry or my children will not be able to find clean clothes to wear*.

    But... cowboys and chocolate. You can't go wrong ;).

    *I would like to point out that the clothes ARE clean. They're just all tangled up in baskets...

  51. I did not mean to leave two comments saying I wanted to win the chocolate. Yes, I am a chocolate fanatic-fiend, but I wasn't trying to get you to give the chocolate to me. Okay, I was, but not with two of the same comment. Oh, you know what I mean.

    My word verification is dingl. Is it saying I'm a dingaling? Probably.

  52. I'm just here for the chocolate...

    may at maythek9spy dot com

    ok ok ok and a cookie...

  53. Cindy, I hear ya! When the time is right, the contests will be there. And we've got your back!

    And chocolate. And really good coffee.

    Kimberli, I'm empathetic to the whole score thing. But what a great lesson learned it was. If I'd only THOUGHT to take out stock in Merck Meds for all those necessary pain relievers, LOL!

    Dave found the Dark Mallo Cups at Tops Markets, a big grocery chain here in NY, PA, OH....

    But he also saw them in a little gas station, so they're infiltrating!!! AND WONDERFUL!!!

  54. Hey girl, how many times do I have to apologize for that 88 in the FH&L.

    Get over it!!!!!!!!

  55. Sherrinda you've never heard of ROWDY YATES????

    Clint Eastwood, so young, so handsome he GLOWS IN THE DARK.

    weirdest thing.

  56. Can you believe all the abuse we took to get here?

    Wow, and the really sad part is, it's GOOD to be abused, because you've just got to get TOUGH.

    And those judges comments help you grow your rhino hide like few other things will.

    I just ache for people who are new to this and get their first horrible contest comments. I just hate seeing how hurt they are and knowing they're going to have to take on a lot more of it before they're done.

    btw, thanks for the Barclay Pin, Ruthy, and I think you can admit I'd gotten REAL TOUGH by the time you slammed me in that stupid contest.

    Ruthy's score got BOUNCED due to discrepancy judging because it was so much lower than the others. I WON that contest, baby doll.

    Not that you didn't have a heck of a good point.

    You were WRONG however, but then we've all moved on from that, haven't we?????

  57. Ruthy....




    You just put everything I have gone through in the few contests I have entered into words- so much better than I ever could AND had me laughing. Now who else could do that, I ask??

    You almost made me forget that goose egg I got on my last contest...almost. ;)

    Ya done good on this one. I'll have to visit again the next time my score is absolutely rotten and oh so very true...

  58. Mary, You are tooo toooo funny.

    Have we moved on????

  59. Mary gave you that 88??

    *hands on hips* Ah! How could she??

  60. Pepper, those firsts are hard. I still get ver klempt over some of those situational moments I know my mother would have loved.

    But this is why women's tear ducts are SO MUCH COOLER than men's. We clean 'em more often.

    I love that you and I think alike, but that's because you are the child I gave up because I was like 12 when you were born.

    Or 27....

    Dagnabbit. ;)

    Great minds do indeed think alike. Or they run dry simultaneously! Sending you hugs from upstate.


    I never even THINK of it anymore. I have matured and grown wise and the fact that someone gave me A STINKING ONE IN THE GOLDEN HEART FOR PETTICOAT RANCH ABOUT SIX MONTHS BEFORE IT SOLD IS NOTHING TO ME. NOTHING.




  62. Melanie, SHUSH.

    Those who do not have snow six months out of twelve ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN AFTER FOUR NIGHTS!

    This is an unwritten rule that should be written. Hey, maybe I just did that.

    And darling girl, you and I are newbies at the pubbed rounds. We don't consider them contest entries, honey. We consider them DONATIONS.


  63. Mel, you're in! And Pep, thank you!

    I love Vince.

    Have I mentioned that lately???

  64. Oh Mama Ruthy,
    I do so love you.
    And your house.
    And all of my adopted and beautiful sisters and brothers :-)

    Btw, my mom says it's okay if she shares me...but only with you.
    Just so you know.

    Back to revising lecture notes now - and I have to go purchase velcro for class tonight...for my students :-) The first class of the semester needs to be memorable, don't you think?
    Any questions?

    Oh - and I'd love some of that chocolate. If I need to enter my request in twice like Melly, I'll be glad to :-)

  65. I didn't really give Ruthy an 88

    But wouldn't it be funny if it'd been me...after she gave me a WHAT WAS IT RUTHY? 60 out of 100?

    Three scores 100/98/60
    Discrepancy judge gave me a 99.

    that book releases in October by the way. We'll talk more later about demon possession and why Ruthy thought it was a bad idea.

  66. Wait! I mean Ruthy thinks demon possession was a bad idea in my book.

    I'm sure she thinks demon possession in general is also bad.

  67. Ruthy!!! Love, love, love this post, and love that you're conquering the office.

    Sigh. Rowdy!

  68. Laundry baskets. With laundry. The never-ending story, ending in the age-old question: WHY DO WE BUY DRESSERS, ANYWAY?

    Carol M, yeah, chocolate, cowboys and Great Expectations. Way to go, Domino!


    And Genesis brought me so much notice back in the days when it was Noble Theme. Did I mention that Vickie McDonough sent me the little pins to acknowledge my Noble Theme wins????

    How nice was that?

    Finaling in Genesis was fun because I was able to go to the conference to receive the award. I didn't have money for RWA so my FH&L awards were always in absentia, but they put on a great Touched By Love contest over there. I'm proud of all the feedback I got from both those contests and the friends I've made over the years.

    You're motoring, kiddo. Good for you!

  69. Mel, I thought it was quite cagey of you.

    KC, you're in! Love that dog.

    Connealy, the 88 was JUST PLAIN MEAN.

    And it wasn't you, honey, because I COULD READ THE HANDWRITING.


  70. Ah, Mary and the Barclay. THANK GOD she doesn't hold a grudge.

    And yes, I was WRONG.... Kind of. Way too harsh point-wise, but a little right in my 'what on earth are you thinking????' position.

    Right up until the thing got contracted. And let me be the first to say that Mary's skill at weaving suspense is one of the best I've read EVER.

    How's that for pressure, Doll-face???

    Get over the stupid "1".

    And The Barclay.

    Did I ever tell you the time I....

    Naw, I won't tell that one. The author's still alive and might put a hit out on me. Deserved.

    I'm SOOOOO learning to be quiet.

  71. Oh, Casey, honey, I'm with you.

    And I won't pretend it didn't STING LIKE A SWARM OF BEES.....

    But the sting is gone now, and look at Mary, bein' all that nice about feelin' bad 'bout y'all????

    Are you buying that, people????


    Have you seen her red pen?

  72. Hmmm... I forgot to enter for the chocolate.

    So glad you've gotten over the GH thing, Mary. ;)

    Ruthy - I'm so hoping to ACFW this year but a few things do need to fall into place [first I'm hoping to get to go to Denver with DH for a week in March - he has a conference, I could go virtually free but have 4 kiddos to get taken care of :p]. Not that I think I have tons of hope of finaling in Genesis but it would be nice. And I could meet Seekers. And Friends of Seekers.

    That's the whole reason you know. Not the classes or having random conversations with editors or agents or anything.

    It's the Seekers.

    Yep :).

  73. Naw, Casey, she didn't.


    She's actually been nice to me. And my work.

    'Sup wi that???

  74. And still forgot my blasted address.

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

    [I blame Deeanne Gist. She's had me in tears all morning. It's her fault.]

  75. Love that pic, Pep.

    And the velcro.

    I will not ask. I refuse. I dare not, dast not.

    Okay, why Velcro???

    We use it here. But the purpose is SECRET.

  76. Sixty????

    I gave you a 60?????

    Oh I'm damned for certain.



    I can't wait to read this book, regardless of my score back then. And let me just say that the gals who gave those outrageously inflated scores????

    I'm going to calmly guarantee they'd never, ever, ever, ever, EVER read an inspy book.


    But I was still wrong.

    And then I e-mailed you to apologize and explain. I did apologize and explain, right? Or did I just lecture you????

    So long ago, you know. ;)

  77. Carol M, they have classes at conferences? Who knew????

  78. Sheesh! It's only 10:07 here and already there are 69 comments!

    Ruthy, my dear, I'm so glad you wrote this post. To see where you started and where you are now is fuel for my fire. Thank you.

    One question though... when do you quit entering?
    - when you get 'the call'?
    - when you've submitted and are waiting? (Writing something new, of course.)
    - when you feel your time and money has been wasted?
    - when you feel like it? LOL

    When did YOU quit? What was the last contest you entered and when, in revelance to your getting 'the call'?

    btw - I don't want to enter. I don't need to enter. If you enter me and I win, I'll... I'll... I'll re-gift! . No wait - I'll ask you to donate it to the local women's shelter. Yeah, that's it.

    Because I was a bad girl this Christmas and don't want to see chocolate again for a looooong time. :( Maybe not even until Valentine's Day. Haha

    Anita Mae.

  79. On this Mary and I concur:

    Demon possession is a bad thing in any way, shape or form.

    (how was that for a disclaimer???)

  80. I have 8 laundry baskets in my house.
    And they're always full.
    The only time I've seen an empty laundry basket is when I've bought a new one at the store.

    Velcro, plus white noise, plus pig latin, plus lights blinking on and off = autism simulation. The velcro goes on the back of the students' shirts (like a tag hitting the skin) and another piece goes under their sleeve (hitting the skin)

    Sorry - too much info.
    But there you have it. And I LOVE doing it - because it develops understanding FIRST before I even teach a word

    Did I mention I want to be entered for the chocolate? Did I? Just checkin'

  81. I blame Deanne for most everything. Saves me time in the confessional, honey. ;)

  82. Ruthy, you need no humbling, my dear : D

    And tell me about the snow!!! We got soooooo much over here in Vermont, hun! LOL! And lemme tell you...I'm the last person complaining that Mom and sis had to go to school today ; )

    Okay, I don't want to brag but I am the happiest today that I have been in quite a long time. Though my doctor's appointment this morning was definitely not all good.....I LOST 5 POUNDS IN THE LAST MONTH!!!!! Yes, thank you very much that is counting the two holidays we had and I really wasn't making that much of a conscious effort! Lol....I'm hoping that this is a good indicator to what's ahead. We are probably rejoining Weight Watchers and I pray to God that it helps. Last time I lost 30-35 pounds in a few months I believe. But the money part of it got the better of us and we had to stop. Money is definitely NO better now, but it's time. I need to turn this around now because I already weigh WAY too much. Just had to share that awesome news guys are important to me : ) My second family!

    Okay off to figure out a GPS because I have NO clue how to get where this appointment is and I'm going alone. Think of me, please *gulp*

  83. I'm starting to think about entering a contest or two. Nothing like a 98/98/52 to put a twist in your knickers. I'm feeling nostalgic.

    Ruthy, dressers are for clothes you don't wear very often.

  84. Ruthy,
    Did you notice that pic is of me with...(gasp) MR. DARCY!!!

    And I love Mary's new pic!! She looks so happy :-)

  85. Anita, great question! And no chocolate for you. Got it and I admire you for taking that stand. (Note to self: Draw Anita's name and eat all the chocolate yourself)

    I didn't stop. When it looked like no one was grabbing me out of inspirational obscurity I redoubled my efforts thanks to Tina's "PLAN B" which lit the fire under the unpublished Seekers a few years back. I wrote and wrote and wrote in the straight contemp romance. No sex, no swearing, but good stuff. I finaled several times. That brought me over to Supers and the very nice editors there. I truly think God was opening windows as long as I was willing to do the work.

    And from one of THOSE contests, I entered the second place entry in FINALLY A BRIDE where Melissa Endlich of Steeple Hill was the final judge. I entered twice, The Prodigal and Winter's End. She gave them a tie for first place and asked for both.

    She bought Winter's End and we've got a great working relationship. She's okay with drawing out the romance from my women-sympathetic mind and that's been a great learning curve for me since I tend toward a little too much info in my writing. Working with Melissa is polishing my writing skills and making me see how to write tight and succinct.

    So my advice: Don't stop. Polish. Keep writing more stuff. I have 8 more finished books in my computer that I hope will find a home in the next few years, besides what I'd love to do with Love Inspired.

    Write. Write. Write some more. And enter.

  86. Hannah, prayers right now for getting a finger on how to trigger that weight back down to where you want to be.

    I know you can do this.

    Finding your way????

    Honey, some of the BEST STORIES come from when you get just a little lost.


    I have absolute faith that you can do BOTH.

    Day by day on the weight thing.

    And the driving a new place on your own? An adventure for sure!



    I SWEAR IT. ;)

    Pep: I love Mary's new pic, too. She's medicated. Just thought you'd want to know.


    Unmedicated In WNY

  88. Apologize? Lecture?

    with you, Ruthy-kins, it's kinda hard to differentiate.

    And it might not have been a 60. It might have been a 68.

    Oh who knows. There isn't ever a story that I can't make a little better with some deft editing.

    Yes, some FANATICS might call this LYING. But I live a quiet life and have a lot of spare time to ... ahem ... edit.

  89. This is actually kind of funny.

    Ruthy's post on her own low contest scores as regressed into her apologizing for her own low judges scores.

    Or vehement denial.


  90. Boy oh boy....I'm a newbie here, and I'm wondering just what I've stumbled upon!

    ...but, you know, NCIS and Clint and chocolate, all in one place in one morning? I think I found my new favorite hang out!

    If I promise to share my hot chocolate (no marshmallows - we don't want to dilute the pleasure), may I leave a comment?

    Thanks so much, Ruthie, for sharing your contest journey! My big writing goal this winter is to enter at least one contest, and your post was an inspiration. I've had my pride knocked in a few times, so I think I can get over poor scoring - but I really want the critiques! So on with the entries!

  91. Jan - you could be happy here... If you bring food or beverages that's always good too ;).

    @Mary [and anyone else]: don't think I mentioned this when I finally got it posted the other day. Seeker Sighting

    I have now officially FINISHED OFF MARY CONNEALY!!!!!

    [Might I add that I'd called that Walmart and several others asking if they had Sharpshooter in as mine did not and they all said NO! I went anyway and sure enough... there it was :p].

  92. Those cookies look delicious! And the pictures:) Would love to be entered in the giveaway.


  93. I was thinking about leaving a really complimentary comment for you, Ruthy, but we're already sitting at 91 so I'm afraid it would get lost in the shuffle.

    Anyway, I wouldn't want to give you a big head or anything, just because you're so darned affable and brilliant.

    ALTHOUGH . . .


  94. CarolM, you at now time met a man in a dark alley and gave him a brown paper bag full of cash, right?

    I'll be hiding under my desk until I hear back from you.

    Biting my fingernails.

    I brought my laptop under here so I can keep writing.

  95. Well, if you've got your laptop under there, just stay put.

    We'll let you know when you can come out.

    Maybe when Laura gets her own story. Or maybe one of Belle and Silas' girls.

    Or maybe never if you just keep writing...

    /slinks into the alley and hands another bag of money to a guy in a trench coat/

    Now where were we?

  96. Chocolate and cowboys? You do know how to lure us in, Ruthy.

    I'm a firm believer in the value of contests. I invested heavily in them, but it paid off in an offer of representation from my Dream Agent in December 2009. Didn't happen overnight, though. I submitted 47 entries first. My offer came from the final round judge on my 43rd.

    I'm sooo grateful to my many wonderful contest judges, which include some savvy Seekers. I've said it before, but it's true. My judges taught me to write. Bless each of one of the brave souls who had to wade through my early efforts but were still kind, encouraging, and helpful even though my stories needed tonz of work. You rock!

  97. Thank you MADAME OBVIOUS for pointing out that I am not afraid to ummm....

    pimp my blog.

    Like, dudette, seriously, it's what I DO.

    Sheesh, Myra.

    Jan, YES!!! So nice to see you/meet you and chocolate is a bribe right along with cowboys, writing tips, great stories and WONDERFUL if somewhat bossy buds. and contests brought the Seekers together and WE HAVEN'T KILLED ANYONE YET.

    But leave the tiaras alone, dear. :)

    And good luck on those entries. Gotta get it out there, take a hit now and again.

    A little ouch. Like a needle stick to prevent GRAVE ILLNESS.

    And Mary, I'm sure it was a sincere apology because I actually have an anxious to please nature. When I'm not lecturing the world at large.

    Good heavens. I might need a pill.

    And CHARITY!!!! Good to see you! Thanks for stopping in.

    And Keli, you and me both. Those nice judges who took the time (remember how I PRAISED the Orange Rose Judges and the TWENTY-FOUR PAGE PROLOGUE WITH NO DIALOGUE??? NONE????)

    And these gals get paid nothing to help us.

    But we probably give them fodder for conversation, LOL!

  98. Ruth that was lovely! Thanks so much for sharing all your inspiration with us! And don't fret about the clutter, with all the work you do, it is inevitable! And like you, I am so glad I entered more than just one contest last year, because one went well and one didn't and that gave me the opportunity to compare the results so I could fix what needed fixing and get rid of the rest.

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  99. OK, that's good. Or I wouldn't have read her latest book soon to be hitting my mailbox.


    Maybe I would anyway. ;)

  100. Ooo, ooo, I have to leave one more just to take it to 100. I know. I'm a pill. ;D

  101. Hi Ruth:

    Your book, Made to Order Family is putting my website on the map! Thanks!

    OMG! I just looked at the pictures of your office. The last time I looked they were not up. I just saw blank white spaces where the pictures should have been. But, don’t be so fast to clean it up!

    First: It’s not a mess until you can’t find what you are looking for.

    Second: most civilizations believe that the world was created out of chaos.

    I mean, ‘order from order’ = dullsville.

    I think the ‘God’ model has merit. In the beginning there was chaos. After all, you are taking on the role of a creator.

    Oh I told my wife you wrote that you love me.

    She said, “Yea, but she don’t have to live with you!”

    I know. I know. I just love this Platonic virtual world. I love you, too! I think I’ve loved you since I first saw how you used white space in your comments. Creative, witty, an unafraid! I knew then that that was just how your books would be.

    BTW I just love the way you are keeping up with all the comments. It is very hard to do this and do anything else! Great job!


    For my first contest I got an A, C, and F. I wrote a stream of consciousness scene which showed how a philosopher thinks. One judged loved it. Another judge wore, “This makes no sense at all!” The third judge had no comment.

    My next three contests were great! I got all 90s and 95s except for a single 85 on one entry. Top score was 100. The judges liked my work but I didn’t final on any of them. I think this was worse than rejection. If I can’t final with these scores, what hope is there? I really tried to win and I don’t think I can write any better than those entries. So be it. But I think I will have to enter something this year.

    OMG: I have almost the same hat that Clint is wearing in the first picture! You can see it in the picture I sent Tina yesterday. What are the odds that the next day you would show the same hat on your post?

    Great minds and all that. : )

    I think I better go and enter a contest.


  102. I actually went back to some old contest entries this week, got bug eyed and queasy.

    And those were from some I did for other writers.

    I think sometimes it hard to look at mine cause I'm shaking my head so hard I get ill.

    Don't know that I need the chocolate, but here's my email anyway, cause I'd like to change it for information purposes too.


  103. Eva Maria aka: One of Ruthy's favorite names on the planet!!!

    I'm so proud of you. First, you got your stuff out there twice. Second, you're still here, WHICH SAYS SO MUCH, LOL!!!!

    Already I know that you're a survivor.

    Sweet. ;)

  104. Casey, thank you for that 100 sweet thaaaaang!


  105. January might be an odd time for chocolate, but it's a great time to share your contest experiences. Many of us will dive into the contest deep end this year, so it helps to hear how others have lived to tell the tale.

    Your post raised a suggestion for a future post from the Seekers. Contest reputations. You mention here what Orange Rose is known for. I wonder how other contests are known or how they distinguish themselves, something that only former entrants would know but might be useful to future entrants. Hmmm...

  106. Vince, I just saw that you posted over there at Ruthy's Place.

    I can't wait to show 'after' pictures, but you're right Vince.



    I do create better with some chaos. It feels comfortable. Billy Joel wrote his best stuff when his life was a debacle. So he wrote a LOT of good stuff, LOL!

    First, your wife is right, too, and my ardor cools when confronted with the reality of living with men, but that doesn't mean I don't celebrate what a God-given gift a good man is.

    And I'm so happy people are heading to your blog to see that wonderful write-up! My gratitude is real and sincere, despite that redundancy.

    Women need wives. I would give a lot for a wife. Should I move to Utah???

    Anyway, since I CAN'T have a wife I decided I needed to clean the office out. With a backhoe. And a conveyor belt. Big jobs take big machinery.

    Someone pass the coffee pot.

  107. Vince, it, uh, sounds like you're actually GUSHING over Miss Ruthy!

    And for the record, good ol' Rowdy Yates was one of my prime-time heroes back in the day. Right along with Little Joe Cartwright, The Rifleman, and The Deputy.

  108. Vince, you've hit a current contest predicament. You almost have to have THREE PERFECT scores to final.

    It wasn't always that way, but judges got savvy to the idea that if they didn't go all out for an entry they loved, it wouldn't final. So that kind of started skewing things a few years back.

    I had one judge write to me three years ago about a non-inspy entry. Her 96 kept me out of finaling. She was devastated because she thought high nineties was a gimme.

    Two hundreds and a 96....

    No final. Came in fourth. So that's a bit of a downer but now judges are realizing that you really gotta kind of ace all the judges (like Roger Federer on a tennis court, for heaven's sake) so they're giving higher scores.

    Yup, go enter one. I love hearing results like that!

  109. Patricia, what a good point! And you're right, different contests get known for various strengths, but....

    the most important thing????

    Keep your eye on the ball. WHO IS THE FINAL JUDGE????

    And then look at the contest rep.

    Orange Rose is tough. I never finaled. Didn't matter, got great advice back from very on-top-of-their game ladies.

    And I liked entering inspy stuff into some non-inspy categories because my stuff got shot down in some inspy categories over the years. Not all inspirational judges like a sense of humor. Or they wanted a more obvious faith thread. Or my hero wasn't blatantly faithful (I heard this about Brooks often...)

    In my humble opinion, they were wrong because faith shouldn't have to knock you over the head to be good, right?

    And sometimes you get a really important nugget of info from non-inspy judges that's just enough to do an AHA! moment.

    I like taking chances. I don't always like the results, but I like the risk factor.

    And yet I DON'T play the lottery!!!

  110. Tina P, hey, dude! Good to see you! Isn't going back a hoot? Or a smack upside the head.

    Either way, we learn.

    Or not! :) But you're another survivor, you're tough. We can take it!

  111. Myra. Little Joe. Loved him. And I loved him later as Pa Ingalls. And as an angel. I just love Michael Landon.

    And Chuck Connors??? Again, that craggy look, square jaw. SWEET.

    I don't know The Deputy, but that's probably our age difference showing.

    I'm ducking REAL LOW right now!

    Hugs, Myra.

    (this said from the floor)

  112. Spoken in hushed tones:


    I LOVE gushing. I'm just sayin'...)


    Your friend,


  113. Myra, I like to hear Ruthy talk.

    It's that like-minded thing, I reckon. (big grin)
    I recognize a kindred spirit when I see one - especially those sort.

    VINCE visited my BLOG!! I was so happy about that, Vince. It made my day.
    Just so you know

  114. Vince, I'm begging you, do NOT discourage Ruthy from fighting the battle of the office.

  115. How about HEATH on The Big Valley.

    Uh...this is a blog about hot TV cowboys isn't it?

    I can't remember anything else important.

    Except of course for CarolM and her ... strange plans.

  116. PS Mallow Cups are disgusting.

    Nuthin' but chocolate coated Marshmallow Peeps.

    (uncontrolled shuddering and gagging)

  117. Wow! 113 comments? No wonder it took me forever to scroll through!

    Clint Eastwood. Yum. Who can name the song he sang in the movie musical, "Paint Your Wagon?" Answer later . . .

    And Gibbs? Sigh . . .

    Dark chocolate? Yum again. I'm always up for entering a contest where chocolate is the prize. Just sayin' . . .

    Contests? Blerg. Here's the thing. I've never done BADLY in a contest, but I've never done WELL, either, and never finaled. Here's hoping the most recent edits will impress an editor and an agent, if not a contest judge!

    Thanks for your post, Ruthy. You always brighten my day - especially when you and Mary get on a roll! :)

    Oh, and thanks for the coffee. I needed another cup. It's COLD here in the South!

    Clint's song? Thought you'd never ask . . . "I Talk to the Trees." Yep. He really sang that as a solo. The only two lines I can remember are, "I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me." LOLOL


  118. Just read Marys comment about peeps.
    Just wondering as here in Aust easter eggs are on shelves are peeps on shelves? I have to say my good buddy Cheryl sent some and I did like them and would love to buy some.
    Oh and did I see some food over yonder I woke up (as you can see) starving!
    Hannah hope the appointment went well after having someone use a gps in Vancouver to go to Stanly park and us taking over 2 and a half hours for what should have taken 50 mins and would have if we followed the map we didn't even need to turn of the main road but the gps made us. The lady and her gps almost wore cerment shoes and had a swim in the ocean!

    Thanks for all the support about the flooding. In Brisbane is looking so much better today still lots of water but the main threat is over here. There are other areas preparing for the floods? But it is good seeing people helping people.

  119. Clip clop, here comes the slop.

    That's coffee that was made last night, when the blog wasn't up!!! Now it's set so long it's slop.

    Oh, well.

    Went to bed about 2 a.m. When I got up, we had no water. Broken thinga-ma-jig. Had to have the plumber come fix it. My whole day's off kilter.

    But I knew Ruthy would take care of the coffee. She likes the stuff and wouldn't take the risk of counting on me.

    Ruthy and I have some common interests, but we're NOT ON THE SAME TIME LINE! My nocturnal habits and her up-with-the-chickens ones just don't connect.

    But we sure connect on Rowdy. Remember him SO well.

    Also connect on contests. I've experienced those discrepant (is that good word?) scores, but I've only had a couple of judges ever sign their score sheets.

    Have results due in from a contest later this month. It's the only one I have out right now.

    But I'm looking at Genesis. I plan to enter my wip. When I finish the current chapter I'll have reached the 2/3 point, at which time I've promised myself a break to get the entry ready.

    I don't have a synopsis.

    Just the thought of writing it is killing me.


  120. Well, Ruthie. It's all so very overwhelming at times. I have a finished WIP and starting a second one. I thought of sending my WIP to LI, but it's too long. So, now I'm searching for an agent and praying it doesn't take forever to land a contract for my book.

    I even despaired today wondering if my novel is more "been there, done that" than I want to believe. I do think I can write. I've had a friend who has had well over a hundred books and endless articles published tell me that I have a bright future ahead of me as a writer. So, why am I panicking with a sense of "not good enough" stamped on my brain?

    I'm not usually a softy when it comes to critiques and I'm not a quitter, either. Not when it comes to writing. But things sure become overwhelming at times.

    Maybe I just need chocolate...


  121. Julie, yes, I'm the only girl. Even when we did have pets, they were males. But, I didn't have sisters growing up, either. I honestly don't know what to do with other females most of the time. It's a long story I won't go into. Maybe if I make it to St Louis we can have some girl time. :D Though you might have to show me how. LOL

  122. The Deputy

    OMG, "I Talk to the Trees"! I can still hear Clint singing this! Somewhere in a box in the top of a closet I think I still have the soundtrack for the movie! But sadly, we haven't owned a turntable in years.

  123. In solidarity with your post, I just ate a pan full of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

    That's just the kind of good friend I am, Ruthy darlin'.

  124. Clint also sang in The Beguiled, one of the only movies Clint Eastwood ever died in.

    I saw it when I was in college.

    Yes, they had movies when I was in college, shut up.

    It was NOT a hit.

  125. Oh, I'm loving this post, Ruthy. So encouraging! And making me admire you even more for your tenacity and gumption to go after what you wanted and felt called to (like taking that extra job to pay for it!).

    You know, I'm dying to see your office!! let us know when you have the after photos, please!

  126. Hi Mary:

    (Don’t tell Ruth but I’m using psychology.)


  127. .
    Hi Pepper:

    Did I mention you have one of the best website tags:

    “Stories of hope and healing, peppered with grace and a dash of humor”

    That’s just delicious even though I didn’t write it myself! : )


  128. Jan, I'm glad you found us!! I hope you'll come back and hang out with us some more.

    Good for you for jumping back in the contest! :)

  129. Mia, thanks for jumping in and commenting! We're glad you're here.

  130. Myra:

    I grew up on cowboy TV shows. I didn’t like Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates. I thought he was just a pretty boy. I loved Richard Boone in Paladin (Have Gun Will Travel) because it gave rugged (read not pretty) guys at chance to be a hero. But when Dirty Harry came along, Eastwood went to the top of my list!


    P.S. Do you know I get a hit almost every single day of the year on either “Romance by the Book” or “Autumn Rains” and most days on both of them? Just put “Christian Romantic Comedy” into Google and see who puts up! Also almost everyone who clicks on Ruth’s book, Made to Order Family also goes to “Autumn Rains”. Keep those books in print!

  131. Hi Ruth:

    I think you have something about the contest grade inflation. If you give high scores, the contestant is more likely to enter more contests (except me). Also the higher the score, the less time need be spent on writing comments.

    The one comment I got on the 85 was “I want to see what your character’s body is doing while he is talking”. That comment was worth the entry fee. She was so right!

    I will say this: that my first contest provided more comments and useful information than ten times the cost of the entry fee. That was the contest both Tina and I entered.

    I think contests may be best for the just starting writer and the writer just short of selling.


  132. FIRST OF ALL:

    Pep, thanks for LEAPING to my defense, and I might just add you are a party of ONE who likes to hear me talk.

    Which is why we're friends, honey. Thank you for that!




    I forgot the Big Valley. We didn't get that channel and I never got to see it when it was on, but I saw posters.

    Oh my.

    And the move from contests to cowboys was SO SUBTLE that I scarcely noticed it.

    I love cowboys.

  133. Hannah, congrats on the weight loss!!! You're doing good!

    And Pepper, we have about 6 or more laundry baskets that stay full. And I only have half the kids you do! :) So let's hear it for the basket people! (high fivein' you)

  134. I'm jumping in here late today, as I've been diligently working in a storage closet that held 14 years' worth of STUFF. Oh my--I had NO idea I'd accumulated that MUCH stuff--guess it comes from years of teaching school (or the fact that I'm a packrat, but trying to overcome that, LOL). GREAT post, Ruthy--your comments always make me smile (or laugh!), and of course your photos today were an added bonus (haven't had a Mallo Cup in ages, but may have to get one SOON!). I had decided to finally enter a writing contest (Genesis) but have still felt a little hesitant. Now after reading your post I am going through with it, and will try NOT to "go to pieces" if/when I receive any bad scores/comments. I just want it to be a learning experience, because I still have much to learn! ~ Those cookies are wonderful, by the way--YUM!! ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  135. Regina, honey? There's a reason no one remembers that song. 'sall I'm saying.

    So you're contest "medium"? Mary would say: SHOOT SOMEONE!

    I would say: Have someone die a slow and painful death thereby eliciting all kinds of raw emotion destined to DRAG the judges in, kicking and screaming.

    But we're MORBID women, so you do whatever you want to grab 'em by the throat, honey. One tip: Pretend you're going to enter a five page contest, a "BEGINNINGS" type contest and pump every bit of teeth-jarring angst, humor, action, etc. that you can into those five pages.

    And then make that the opening scene of your book. It's amazing how focusing on grabbing judges by the throad (metaphorically speaking, most of the time!) with those opening pages lets you see them through really tight eyes.

    And Mary: Feel free to bring me any and all Mallo Cups you find to St. Louis. I will gladly enjoy them while you writhe. I'm really liking the dark ones, btw. And remember: God loves a CHEERFUL giver.

  136. Jenny, welcome back!!! No swimming honey. None. Promise.

    HELEN!!! I have no idea what happened. I hit Publish Post but it was still listed as "draft" when I got up this morning. thanks for trying, dear one!

    And Rowdy. Oh yes. Great minds think alike! And contests. Trying. Stick-to-it-iveness. We share all of that!

    I made it a point to never enter a contest that required a synopsis after getting burned several times by judges who can't seem to separate the two. So even though it says "Unjudged" I had judges tell me "The entry was great, it was wonderful, you had me at hello! But the synopsis made me rethink things because .... Blah, blah, blah..."


    Not that I'm discouraging you, but I'm a fan of contests that don't require a synopsis.

    Even now that I write them regularly, LOL!

  137. Linnette, we've all been there. Those doubts are normal whether you're pubbed and unpubbed which is why we're one of the neediest bunches on the planet.

    Remember Bob Mayer????

    Honey, writers are universally a little whacked out, so as long as we can support one another and pretend we're some semblance of some norm, we're okay!!! ;)

    My advice:

    I'm super proud of you having one manuscript done, and EVEN MORE PROUD that you've moved on to your second.

    Gotta keep forging ahead. Going. Working. Focusing. There's little quick reward in this business, so we enjoy the rewards when they come, and in between: we work. ;)

    And eat chocolate. As for girl time. Oh, yes, oh yes, there will be some of that in St. Loo!


  138. The Beguiled was weird. I think I creep out of the room on all fours if Dave turns it on. He loves Clint. Dirty Harry. Westerns. Loves him.

    And those cookies were for EVERYBODY.

    Oh my stars, girlfriend, thank you for taking one for the team, but you didn't have to take a WHOLE TRAY for the team. 'Cause now the team gets nada. Zip. Zilch.

  139. Vince, you look at you getting inside my head.

    Feel free to be VERY FRIGHTENED. It scares the heck out of me, my friend!


    And the time factor for comments and judging... You could be on to something. My old FH&L Touched By Love sheets asked judges to explain every time they scored less than a five.

    A five.

    Which was the best. So if you gave a four or a three, you had to explain. Ouch. But they gave good critiques and I agree, one golden nugget that WE DIDN'T SEE, is worth that $30 or so.

    And I love that so many are electronic now. Save postage and paper. Lovely.

    MISSSSSSSY!!!! Oh, yeah, I'll show pics. If I LIVE THROUGH IT! First revisions, though. And I love how my revisions are going and I'm wondering (Hush, Vince) why I didn't see this ahead of time.

    But I didn't so now I'm dream-weaving.

    But loving it!

  140. Oh, and Vince: Matt Dillon.

    Gunsmoke. My mother loved that and it was a good, gritty guy.

    Paladin. Nice. You're right, Richard Boone was spot on.

    See, we girls liked Rowdy because he called to the fixer, the caretaker in us. He was TORTURED.

    Oh my stars, I am glad I grew up eventually. ;)

  141. Thanks, Ruthie! Yes, I thought about Bob as I was typing up my post. :-) I'm beginning to see how the phobias can get worse the further into a writing career you go.

    Julie has me on her prayer hit list to make it to the conference. I'm chatting with Cynthia now to see what I need to do, so hopefully I'll get some of that girl time in St Louis! :-)


  142. PattiJo, yes. Jump in the water. You're half-way there with the 14 year closet. (Loving THAT by the way, LOL!)

    But yeah, honey, go for it. You've got nothing to lose and developing that rhino hide that Mary mentioned (usually I NEVER think of MARY and RHINO in the same train of thought, but SHE STARTED IT!!!)can't happen soon enough. Really. Truly.

    Like my little kids who get nervous about climbing trees. The climb might seem a bit daunting, but the view from WAY UP THERE:

    Amazing. :) (do not ask how high I let them climb, I have the world's GREATEST, hugest, tallest, old spruce or fir, or something..... A GAZILLION branches. If you fall from 40 feet up, God gives you approximately 200 branches to grab onto. So you might scrape a knee, but you won't die.

    Because even the vaguest person in the world would grab at least ONE of those 200 branches.

    I hope.

    The point: Yeah, take the chance. It's worth it. And if your feelings get nubbed come here and talk to the bunch of us or e-mail me personally. I'll talk you through it.


  143. Linnette, you see? I'm glad you thought of him, there's a reason he's so popular:


    Hugs to you.

  144. Vince, you're a doll, even if you do gush all over the place about Ruthy these days!

    I'm happy to report all three of my Heartsongs will be released in one volume next fall, entitled Gateway Weddings.

    (Shameless plug. If Ruthy can get away with it, so can I. ;>D)

  145. I'm always up for chocolate.

    Contests. To date, one of the most interesting comments I've ever had in a contest came from the judge whose score was dropped from all that reviewed my work. She ripped it in many places, gave me a low score (compared to the other judges), and then wrote at the end of my score sheet, "This is the best entry I've read."

  146. Haha! I'm now a member of the ACFW family!!!

  147. Hi Myra:

    Do you know which stores are going to carry “Gateway Weddings”?

    I bought “Where the Dogwoods Bloom” but the type was just too small. I really want to read it because “Romance by the Book” and “Autumn Rains” are nothing alike. And those two are nothing like “An Imperfect Christmas”.

    I’m really curious what “Where the Dogwoods Bloom” will be like. It’s like you keep reinventing yourself. Your books are actually interesting before I read the first word.


    P.S. To paraphrase Harry Truman: “I don’t gush. I just tell the truth and they think it’s gushing.” (Do you remember the original Truman quote? I do.)

  148. Mary and Ruth, you are cracking me up.

    Miss Hannah, call me when you get there! I want to be sure you're safe.

    I was working on ACFW stuff and wrote 4K on my book today so I didn't get a chance to call.

    But how about tomorrow?

    "Auntie C"

  149. Hi Walt:

    It sounds like that judge didn’t like anything. But she didn’t like yours less than she didn’t like everyone else’s.

    BTW: Do you use 'Walt' on contests or do you use initials. I just wonder if the judges know you’re a man, will they will give you lower scores – either intentionally or subconsciously. I even worry about this when submitting to Woman’s World.


  150. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJanuary 13, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Thanks for sharing with us Ruth and congrats on not giving up! I have no problem with you offering chocolate since I work for a CPA and it is the start of tax season. I need chocolate to help me get through this time of year.

  151. Okay...Ruthie and all of you have inspired me. I'm going to enter the Genesis! As soon as they get my check....


  152. Myra, mi blogga es su blogga.

    Walt: Oh, now that's a self-inflated judge.

    I know a couple of those. I cross the street when I see them coming. If I CAN'T cross the street (or hotel room/corridor/etc.) I smile. Nod. And smile some more. The only two times I'm quiet are when I'm thoroughly torqued-gotta-smack-someone-or-cry angry AND when I don't dare open my mouth.

    Then I smile and nod.

    Smile and nod.

    Smile and nod.

    Very Miss America. Or Apollo 13 wife-like.

    Cheryl, we aim to please, of course. Well, I DO, anyhooooo. Mary's a midwestern gal and they're a tough lot, you know. But you've got to love anyone who features a newborn calf on their blog. Love it, Connealy!

    But did you notice your real life Petticoat Ranch reflects the fictional one in that NO ONE KNOWS HOW THIS COW GOT PREGNANT....

    It's almost a little freaky, honey.

  153. Linnette, good for you! You joined ACFW, and it's a great organization. Wonderful!!!!

    AND you're getting ready to enter the Genesis. Great contest. Stellar.

    You rock, dude!

    And LAURA: my youngest son is a CPA so this is their crazy time. And his birthday AND March Madness (the basketball tournament) fall during crazy time. No celebrating for him, but Boston offers plenty of chances after the crazy season!

    Yeah. Chocolate helps. ;)

  154. Hannah you heard Cheryl make sure you call her then tell me about it later!

    Ruthy no swimming here or in Hawaii.
    where I am I found out we were under flood watch but thats past. the water I shifted in the garage was more puddles not high at all. Now the water in the carport where I work was an inch or two in places but I swept it out too. (I have the blisters to prove it.)
    I noticed I didn't get banned from trees cos I spent a bit of the morning sorting the broken limbs of my ornamental pear tree. I had to cut a few of the smaller bits so my arch wouldn't go down too. They are big branches I will deal with tomorrow. I am of to the bookshop this afternoon and hopefully the rain is over here for now.

    Am thinking I now have to look for mallo cups to see what they are too.

  155. I absolutely the loved the pictures you tucked in of Clint along the way Ruthy. Love that man! Thanks for the terrific post too! Enjoyed it as always.

    Have a blessed day!
    Cindy W.


  156. I thought about pulling out some old contest entries to look over but I lay (Grammar Queen, hope that's right!) down until the urge passed.

    It wasn't the scores I was afraid of, it was seeing the writing again!


  157. I think your lessons on perseverance apply also to those of us who are not writers but may be going through some tough times. As for you and your fellow Seekers, I'm thankful you persevered with your writing so I can benefit from reading your books.
    I do love chocolate. . .the chocolate in the basket looks awfully good!

  158. GATEWAY WEDDINGS by Myra Johnson, a 3 in 1 collection will release November 2011.

    It's available now for preorder on Amazon.

    Gateway Weddings

  159. Welcome to ACFW Linette! I'm on Julie's hit list too. Er... but not the same kind of hit I have out on Mary. I think. I hope.

    Anyway - got 4 kids worht of laundry put up. I have FOUR empty laundry baskets sitting here [the aforementioned laundry was actually in mesh baskets not laundry baskets so like 8 baskets total but the mesh ones are back in the kids' rooms]. I have a bag of clothes to give away, some in a bag to keep for sentimental reasons, and a bag of those that don't fit anyone right now but will.

    We won't mention how many other baskets there are lying around...

    Okay - I think it's just three but one is my clothes from yesterday and the other two are only partially full and only some is clothes [some is like bibs and stuff I need to get rid of now that the youngest is three].

    And my back is KILLING me.

    Off to either write [over 1K today while chatting with Andrea who was reading my MS ;)], read [blaming Deeanne again for that one - half a chapter into the next one and I don't want to put it down], or just collapse and watch Big Bang Theory.

    I probably should work on one of those Genesis entries... But I'm thinking collapsing sounds better ;).

    And chocolate. Always chocolate.

    And there's at least one cowboy in the book so I'm all good.

  160. Vince just became one of my favorite people.

  161. Ruthy darlin' let me just correct you in one tiny way.

    Yes, you are wrong. Just this once.

    I said to my editor, "I keep getting asked, 'how did she get pregnant'. (Sophie in Petticoat Ranch)

    The editor pointed out to me, he (yes HE) said, "It's not really a question of HOW, it's a question of WHEN."

    He was soooooo right.

  162. Walt, I'm so sorry. I laughed out loud, not that fake LOL deal, but real laughter.

    Heaven help the entries she DIDN'T LIKE.

  163. Ruth,
    I walked the same path. At one time, I'd been rejected by every editor in NYC--or that's how it seemed.GRIN (But it only takes one or two editors to say yes to make a sale!)

  164. All this talk of cowboys...

    Remember Chuck Connors in Branded?

    My neighbor down the street made up words to the theme song. We were in, like, 6th grade or something.

    *ahem* /clears throat/

    Stranded on the toilet bowl.
    What do you do when you're stranded...
    without a roll?

    Mary, is there room under the desk? Prob'ly need to join you. Or pay off the trench coat guy.

    Did Mellie get entered twice for chocolate? Just asking...

    Ruthy, May sends her best greetings!!!

  165. Reader Pam, thank you so much! And you're in on the chocolate drawing, m'dear!

    "MA": I hear ya'. Looking back at those awful beginnings (YAAAAWWWWNNN) was a kick in the head, but also a nice reminder of improvement! But I'm glad you laid down. Or lied. Or whatever you did. Where is Myra when we need her????

    Cindy, hey girl!!! Thanks for stopping by and saying 'hey!'.

  166. Mary, I stand corrected. You're right. I worded it poorly BUT:

    The correlation stands true, honey:

    You and that cow have a lot in common.

    'Sall I'm sayin'!

  167. Lyn Cote, welcome! I love it when you stop by, and you are so right. All it takes is one or two editors to give the nod and that perseverance pays off.

    And I am ever grateful for that nod!

  168. Oh, I totally enjoyed reading this post. Love the messy office pics.

    I'd love to win the chocolate basket too. thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  169. AB, you're in!

    And I might MISS the dead bugs once they're all gone.

    I've kind of gotten used to them, although I'm stopping short of inviting their friends and family to tea.


  170. It's not everyday I get compared to a cow.

    Not to my face.

    At least I didn't come up badly. Like I should aspire to be like the cow.

    But still.........

  171. I've missed the contest for the chocolates but I can still say I loved this post! My first draft of my novel started (Ta-Dah!) in a snowstorm and had 30 pages of backstory as (ta-dah, again!) flashback in the heroines mind. I think her cat was the only speaking part in the whole first two chapters. A very nice agent (will give name on request) sent a lovely rejection that said, 'hey, start with the story, not the flashback. If you start with the flashback, that's where the story is.' Um, right!
    Then she advised me to go read some writing books... Which I did and realized I ahd done everything they never said to do! The abd things, not the it's exceptional so I can get away with break the ruels sort of things. :P

  172. Ooh, sorry for the typos! My toddler is 'patting' me on the back of the head with a choo-choo train. Must go play. :)

  173. Oh my stars in heaven, a great, wonderful Missy-post AND our buddy Keli SOLD HER BOOK!!!!!



    Diet soda!


    Egg nog (that one's a little old, I think...)

    A toast to a wonderful gal who is doing a GREAT JOB of busting loose...

    Just a little.

    So proud of you!

    Snoopy dancing in upstate NY!!!!

    YAY! And more YAYS!!!!